Tuesday, Oct. 5, kicks off the Wild Card round of the postseason with the American League going first. Let’s get into the top MLB DFS picks for pitchers and hitters for Yahoo, DraftKings and FanDuel daily fantasy baseball lineups.
MLB DFS Picks: AL Wild Card Spotlight Pitchers and Top Stacks, Tuesday, Oct. 5
Tonight the Red Sox host the Yankees for the American League Wild Card game. This, of course, is a win-or-go-home affair, so the stakes are of the highest nature. A single-game slates means two starting pitchers and two stacks. The basic strategy is similar to the regular season in that the goal is to find strikeouts and home runs.
There are several different formats for single-game MLB DFS contests across the various sites. Some utilize pitchers, others, like Yahoo, are hitters only. Generally, there is a multiplier or two in play to help augment the fantasy score for the designated player. This provides an extra layer of decision making and strategy.
In a twist, there is a bizarre dichotomy for single-game formats that makes the player pool both smaller and deeper at the same time. The smaller part is obvious: There are nine starting hitters and two pitchers. The deeper part is that home runs can come from anywhere at any time. This means there is a justification for playing pretty much everyone in the starting lineups. The decision points will be many, so here are some thoughts to get things rolling.
Top MLB DFS Picks Target: RHP Gerrit Cole at Boston Red Sox — 4.1 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo N/A | FanDuel $11,000 | DraftKings $8,200
Although Yahoo does not utilize pitchers in its single-game format, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each starter since that also will influence batter selections.
Gerrit Cole is the odds-on favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award at some books. While he had the 16th-best ERA in the majors this season, he was third in the American League, which employs the designated hitter. Most importantly, Cole was third with 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings, and he was only five strikeouts from the top spot despite making two fewer starts and pitching a dozen less innings than Robbie Ray.
Though Cole allows the occasional home run, with 1.19 per nine innings, that is hardly a knock considering he is constantly challenging hitters. Lefties have a slight advantage in the power department, but they also strikeout at a higher rate than righties.
Top MLB DFS Picks Target: RHP Nathan Eovaldi vs. New York Yankees — 4.4 implied runs
- DFS Salary: Yahoo N/A | FanDuel $8,400 | DraftKings $6,700
This was a good year for Nathan Eovaldi, who was a steady presence for Boston, making 32 starts while posting a 3.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Eovaldi put the kibosh on home runs, allowing just 0.75 per nine innings. While he is nowhere near the strikeout artist that Cole is, he notched just over one per inning, which is approaching ace territory. In this winner-take-all game, managers from both sides are likely to have a quick hook if either of the aces gets in hot water.
New York Yankees at RHP Nathan Eovaldi — 4.4 implied runs
Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo all have a solid history against Nathan Eovaldi. Though, combined they have a grand total of 63 plate appearances, so that is hardly actionable data. However, this trio also represents the three best Yankee hitters, which does provide some extra comfort. Joey Gallo can change the game with one swing of the bat, and even though he has only one hit in seven at-bats against Eovaldi, again, that small sample does not move the needle.
What does change things is two-time batting champion D.J. LeMahieu landing on the injured list Saturday with a sports hernia that will require surgery. Luke Voit is already on the injured list with a knee issue, which further weakens the New York offense. This will create opportunities, as Gleyber Torres is likely to lead off, which gives him a shot at five plate appearances for the visiting team.
The ripple effect does not end there, as the shuffle likely means that Rougned Odor will take the field to replace LeMahieu. And while his swing is essentially one big hole, if he connects, it will likely be for extra bases. Brett Gardner will be in the lineup, and there is a chance that he could even bat leadoff over Torres. Finally, Gary Sanchez will be on the bench, as Kyle Higashioka is the preferred catcher when Cole is on the mound. Of course, with every at-bat being crucial, Sanchez could be used as a pinch-hitter and likely will come in for Higashioka once Cole is out of the game. Gio Urshela will slot in towards the back half of the lineup, separating two of the left-handed bats in the order.
Boston Red Sox vs. Gerrit Cole — 4.1 implied runs
The big news for Boston will be the availability of J.D. Martinez, who tweaked his ankle on Sunday by tripping over second base while running out to take his spot in the outfield. It is likely that he will be the designated hitter, though if he is out, that would open the door for rookie Bobby Dalbec. (Author update: Martinez has been left off the Wild Card roster, along with Chris Sale, as expected, since he pitched Sunday). Tonight the starting outfield will likely be Kyle Schwarber, who is a priority target, particularly if he is batting second; Hunter Renfroe, who has massive power but is not as desirable with a right-handed starter on the mound; and Alex Verdugo, who will have the platoon advantage on Cole and who is at a discount on most DFS sites.
Regulars Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts are absolutely in play tonight as two of the most complete hitters on the team. Enrique Hernandez will be in his customary leadoff spot, and he has a good history against Cole, albeit in just 11 at-bats. Finally, Kevin Plawecki and Christian Arroyo will be at the bottom of the order, and while they are not exciting, they could be the key to victory in a low-scoring pitchers’ duel if they are the ones creating the runs.
Final Thoughts for the Tuesday, Oct. 5 AL Wild Card MLB DFS Slate
Single-game slates make the games very interesting to watch, as every pitch and at-bat is meaningful. Baseball is extremely event-based, with home runs and strikeouts ruling the day. One bad pitch or call can dramatically change everything, and Lady Luck can be quite fickle.
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